Positive affirmations. They have gotten a little buzzy lately, but for a really good reason. I am sure some of you may have begun to integrate them in your everyday life (yay!). But if you are still wondering what is up with the positive affirmations, well, this blog is for you!
Before we get to what is a positive affirmation is and why can they be so powerful, let’s explore how our thoughts impact our emotions and behaviors.
Thoughts can range from positive, neutral to negative. Negative thoughts, limiting beliefs and faulty mindset create stress for us. They zap our energy and can undermine our sense of confidence and competence. At their worst, negative thoughts perpetuate whatever worries or fears we might default to as possibly leading to our demise.
Hold up, I know, demise may sound a little farfetched. However, did you ever get stuck in a thought cycle that led you to think a loved one would abandon you, you would lose your job, you would end up homeless or your health would unravel and lead to death? This all started with an initial triggering negative thought that led you down an angst filled rabbit hole. I see you. I know you have tumbled down that hole at times. We ALL have experienced negative, irrational thoughts that have spiraled to someplace ugly and bleak.
Now, don’t get me wrong; the things we worry about can happen. But often our negative thoughts are irrational and lead to negative emotions and behaviors. Allowing that cycle to ramp up. We are left feeling very powerless and fearful. For some people this is when anxiety or even panic strikes. We don’t want that, right?!
We want to tap into our resiliency and our hope. It’s still in there. We can shift out of that funk and tap into the bliss, but it’s even easier to achieve when we pump the breaks before we head down the spiral.
There is a practice, rooted in psychology theory and practice that is perfect for this…positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are positive phrases, sentences or series of statements written in the present or future tense. We write, read, or recite these phrases/sentences to replace the negative thoughts with when they pop up.
Research shows the use of Positive Affirmations:
- Reduces stress and rumination, decreasing time spent dwelling on negative experiences
- Can create positive changes in physical behaviors
- Weakens our whole system reactivity to irrational thoughts
- Increases receptivity to possible interventions, decreasing defensiveness and resistance to positive change
- Increases resiliency, seeing new opportunities and possibilities
- Positive link between academic and sports achievement (I think we can add personal growth—but I only have the data from my work with clients)
Ready to test out this helpful strategy?
Here are 3 Steps to Creating Positive Affirmations:
Identify: Like most things, using positive affirmations is a practice. Begin by increasing your awareness of your thoughts so you can catch the negative thoughts before they churn into something bigger and badder and mess with your mood and behavior. Notice how certain thoughts make you feel cruddy, and some thoughts feel encouraging and empowering. We want to practice shifting the cruddy ones.
Challenge: Remember, much of our negative thinking is not reality based and not rationally or logically supported. The negative thoughts may show up as overgeneralizations or absolutes; with words like always, never, all, every, nobody, everyone, etc. Filter out the irrational or crippling thoughts. Give yourself reasons why these are not true.
Replace: Actively create a new, positive, and supportive thought that fits better with the emotional state or experience you desire. Create/write in a way that is aligned with your core beliefs or values, showcase your personal strengths, are supportive of your self-identity and are self-affirming. When you are beginning to create positive affirmations, you may go through a couple drafts of the affirmation until it feels like it fits you. Replace and practice. And practice some more.
Let’s create a positive affirmation around beginning to practice new healthier habits. A new habit of running with your dog Norbert, around the neighborhood, a few times a week. Okay, this is actually–my example 😊. Because really, how can I say no to this cute face?Let me break it down so you can see what it looks like in “real life”.
I want to take time for myself and improve my health. I was a little sluggish during COVID and want to improve my overall health. I picked running because it will also boost my immune system, keep my energy balanced and improve my sleep. Staying active will also create a boost in overall emotional well-being. I will marvel at all I can achieve. It will feel amazing when I can grab any pair shirt or jeans and they will fit just right. Relatable?! 😊
I want to create a positive affirmation to keep me running and staying motivated. So, I cannot start with a positive affirmation of, “Today, I will successfully run 10 miles”. It will create inner tension for me because I know my longest run consecutive run to-date has been 1.5 miles. My subconscious mind will scoff at me and send lots of obnoxious retorts back to my conscious mind. Leaving me feeling discouraged and unmotivated. (Are you seeing where negative thoughts creep in and create havoc???)
How about, “Today, I will run for as long as I can”. Ok, that just sounds like torture. I would not feel motivate by that at all. And most likely find a reason not to lace up my shoes knowing the run will last indefinitely.
Instead, I need to create a more realistic and supportive positive affirmation.
“Today, I take time for creating a healthier body and mind. I choose to move by body through running. Each day I run; I get closer to my goal.” Ahhh, doesn’t that feel more achievable and supportive? For me it has felt great! And Norbert certainly has enjoyed the days we get moving; there are squirrels to find and grassy spots to mark.
I love positive affirmations because they move me away from any stress, worry or fear/anxiety-based thoughts that might keep me stuck. They shine a spotlight and anchor in my desire for action and change. Positive affirmations create flow and opportunities. And they prepare me for receiving all that I desire. I hate to sound like an informercial—but—if they work for me, then they can work for you too!
Are positive affirmations a “cure all” for stress, worry and anxiety? Probably not. However, positive affirmations are a useful tool in reducing the stress we experience because of our thoughts and support positive change in our lives. They are an antidote to negative thinking, faulty mindset and limiting self-beliefs. You want to rid yourself of those? Try creating and activating positive affirmations.
If you feel like you need more support in identifying and challenging negative thoughts or creating positive affirmations, reach out and we can see what we can create together! firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy creating your new affirmations!